Healthcare CFOs and CEOs Ask, Why Are HAIs Still A Problem?

by JRSBlogWriterMay 27, 2014

Healthcare CFOs and CEOs Ask Why Are HAIs Still a Problem?

Healthcare CFOs and CEOs are getting more and more frustrated by the frequency of Healthcare-associated Infections or HAIs. It’s a problem that persists and one that has a direct negative impact on their bottom line.

As of October 2008, Medicare and Medicaid Services started denying payment for selected conditions occurring during the hospital stay. Conditions that were not present on admission. Many insurance companies followed suit.


This policy prompted a push to put strategies in place to reduce the number of HAIs across the nation. One of the biggest areas of focus was proper cleaning of surfaces and washing of hands. Healthcare facilities jumped on board with the full weight of their administrations behind the eradication of some HAIs using this method.

But here we are in 2014 and HAIs are still a very real problem in healthcare facilities across the country. CFOs and CEOs of these facilities are asking why the problem has not been eliminated. The answer may not be to scrub harder.

Steve Welty, an airborne germ expert, thinks the problem may lie in the toilet and the air that surrounds it. Steve looks at questions such as, how do toilet flushes aerosolize these germs, and how do these germs move between rooms?

Let’s take a look at C-Diff. and NV, which are primarily intestinal diseases which cause vomiting and diarrhea. MRSA can also be transmitted this way. Welty argues that the simple act of flushing a toilet whips up the bacteria or virion and launches them airborne. Instead of these bacteria being washed down the toilet, they are lifted into the air by the bathroom fan.

“All toilet-aerosolized droplet nuclei lifted up into the breathing zone allow unsuspecting people to breathe them in. Eventually, bacteria and virions fall (plate out) like party confetti, dusting every single surface in the bathroom and then spill over into the patient rooms coating them and eventually out their doors into the hospital,” says Welty in an article titled ‘Solving Indoor Airborne Disease Transmission Problems’ in Engineered Systems Magazine.

One of Welty’s suggestions is to ventilate from the top down. He advocates putting bathroom supply vents into the ceiling and return vents behind the toilet, below the seat rest area.

At AcornVac, we feel our vacuum toilets and plumbing systems can be another tool in a healthcare facility’s fight against infection. As opposed to a traditional flush toilet which launches that bacteria into the air, our vacuum system sucks the bacteria into the plumbing system eliminating much of the fecal cloud.

NSF International conducted custom testing to compare the flush plume or overspray produced by AcornVac’s vacuum toilets with two common types of gravity flush toilets – a 1.28 tank style toilet and a common commercial wall hung toilet with 1.6 GPF flush valve.

Test Results: AcornVac’s vacuum toilets showed no detectable overspray or levels of bacteria on the toilet seat or in the area surrounding the toilet, while the gravity flush toilets had detectable levels of overspray and bacteria on the toilet seat and in the area surrounding the toilets.

Tests have not yet been done to measure the amount of bacteria and virions that may have escaped and are floating in the air, but given the results of the NSF test, we think that amount would be lower as well. It is certainly worth considering when faced with the mounting costs incurred from HAIs.

To learn more about Vacuum flush systems and the fight against the spread of HAIs, click on “Products” on the menu at the top of this page. To contact your location reps, click on “Contact Us.”

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